What designers can learn from the AK-47

in Design

Mikhail Kalashnikov, the primary inventor of the AK-47, died yesterday in Russia. His invention is possibly the most popular weapon ever made, as the design has been reused and modified to make more than 100 million weapons (an estimate, as no one really knows how many there are). I’m not a fan of guns, nor […]

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Thoughts on Death to Bullshit & Information Overload

in Design, Philosophy

I recently watched Brad Frost’s interesting talk Death To Bullshit (slides). He takes strong positions about information overload and advertising, and with down to earth charm, explores the evidence he’s found. Since I’ve written before about detecting bullshit, calling bullshit on gurus and BS social media experts I had commentary to offer. You’ll get even more pleasure […]

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Book Review: Designing Together

in Book reviews, Design

I was honored to write the forward for Dan Brown’s new book, Designing Together, because I thought it was excellent. It’s the first book I’ve seen that solves a primary reason why designers fail: we stink at working with each other or other people. Brown’s book is the best, and possibly only, resource I’ve seen for […]

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Book Review: Microinteractions

in Book reviews, Design

They say the devil is in the details, but the angels are in there too. That is, if you have a clue about what you’re doing. People who want to design things have large egos and presume that they’re skilled enough to work on large, grand ideas. But so rarely do designs in this world […]

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Summary: Best posts on Getting feedback

in Design

I’m speaking today at An Event Apart San Diego about Feedback Without Frustration. Here’s a summary of my best related blog posts: How To Get Better Feedback How To Run A Design Critique How To Give and Receive Criticism  How To Run A Brainstorming Meeting How To Be Good At Anything Top Mistakes UX Designers Make Why […]

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The No UI debate is rubbish

in Design

A debate is rising on whether the old platitude No UI is the best UI is good or bad. I’ll tell you who is right: no one. Debates like these fall into the same stupid trap academics have fallen into for centuries: Platonic ideals are an illusion. They’re fun to play with, but they’re useless […]

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How to Thank a Customer

in Design

Some people just give good thanks. I bought a t-shirt online awhile ago from Sean McCabe, an artist who works in handdrawn forms. Apparently he now reads some of my blog. Yesterday I received a charming little package in the mail, with a handwritten note. Inside was a print of the design of the shirt […]

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What I learned going back to UX school

in Design, usability

Last week I was on an expert panel, giving feedback to final project presentations at the HCDE 518 User Centered Design course at the University of Washington, taught by Douglas Pyle (syllabus here). Its always fun to see what students are doing. They are the future after all.  My fellow experts were Matt Shobe, Larry Sisson and Marcos […]

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Quote of the day

in architecture (real), Design

The Brooklyn Bridge is one of my favorite buildings. I’ve studied its history and the story of how it was built is also a favorite. Here’s a great quote from one of the bridge’s engineers: Man is after all a finite being in capacities and powers of doing actual work. but when it comes to […]

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News: I’m working on a UX book with Jackson Fish

in Books, Design

When my friends Hillel Cooperman and Jenny Lam started their UX company JacksonFish, I thought, how awesome. Every designer dreams of working on their own terms, where they can make great things. JacksonFish has delivered on their vision, and you can see plenty of examples of their amazing work here. When they told me they […]

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Lessons from Jetpack Joyride

in Design

I’m a very casual gamer. I find few games fun enough to play regularly. One game I play often on my phone is Jetpack Joyride (iPhone). It has so many simple, fun, clever things going for it that it has held up well over time. Its a one button game (tiny learning curve). Luke Muscat, the […]

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The top mistakes UX designers make: the writeup

in Design, usability

Last week I spoke at the Puget Sound SIGCHI meeting. Since it’s a group of designers and user researchers, I let them participate in picking the topic, and top mistakes won by a wide-margin. Rather than talk about tactical mistakes, such as in prototyping and running studies, I focused on the ones we overlook the […]

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How WordPress.com is made

in Design, Software/Web development

Some of you know, in addition to my writing and speaking work, I work as a team lead for WordPress.com, managing a team of developers and designers.  It’s an amazing place to work, and I’ve given a few talks about how we make design and engineering decisions. You can read a popular post I wrote […]

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Usability issue for Kindle on Amazon.com

in Books, Design, ui review, usability

Noticed a small usability issue with how Amazon.com promotes Kindle editions of print books. This is what’s known as a bad default – it often happens when there are multiple defaults that could be considered logically correct, but only one is going to be considered correct by most users. The scenario: while there is a […]

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Feedback without frustration (video)

in Creative Thinking, Design

Last month I spoke at Hive 2011, an event for developers and designers hosted by AIGA and Microsoft here in Seattle. It was an exceptionally well planned event. They did smart things like keeping talk length down to 20 minutes, having a social room with a live-simulcast, and mixing in ignite talks for a change […]

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Are PMs worth more than game designers?

in Design, Management

It’s daft to put faith in any single study, especially ones that make you and your profession look good. Confirmation bias, or finding the first example that supports your beliefs and running with it, is an easy trap. Rather than point to this as evidence for why project managers or designers are most important (which […]

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5 Dangerous Ideas for Designers

in Design

I spoke yesterday at Design Management Institute’s Make it Happen event. I was given the last slot of the day, which is always tricky. Everyone’s tired and ready for beer. I threw in a wrinkle the awesome organizers let me try: I built my talk during the day, based on the best and most dangerous […]

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Comment of the week

in Design, Pop Culture, x of the y

A privilege of  having a popular blog is sometimes smart people come by and calmly, warmly, without a hint of snark, straighten me out.  This post from Ian both identifies all my missteps in an earlier post about design and the 9/11 memorial (where I moronically jumble various contexts and points) and offers a recipe for how I could have […]

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How to ruin a design: the 9/11 Memorial

in Creative Thinking, Design, Management

Update:  After a great comment, I changed my opinion about this. I rarely use the word requirement – it’s a weenie word. But I know if you royally screw up requirements, regardless of what you call them, no designer’s power can save you. Case in point: this story about the design of the 9/11 Memorial […]

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